Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Download Me, Amadeus! Sony Set to Open a Classical iTunes

What’s holding you back from buying classical music downloads? Is it because they’re too hard to find on iTunes? Or is it because the tracks don’t sound that good?

Sony Music thinks it has an answer: It plans to open its own online store dedicated to classical music, and perhaps jazz as well. Sources tell me that Sony (SNE) is prepping a specialty store that features high fidelity, “lossless” downloads, and is on track to bring in the other big labels–Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group (WMG) and EMI–for a launch this fall. No comment from Sony.

I don’t believe Sony has formally signed on the other labels yet, but the industry sources I’ve talked to seem confident that all of the majors will be on board, via non-exclusive deals, sooner than later.

That makes sense: This one doesn’t require any label to rethink a business model, and the stakes are fairly low. The labels don’t sell much classical or jazz online, so if they can get any kind of boost here, it’s all gravy.

Do a genre-specific store and higher-quality audio matter? For most digital music, the answer has been a resounding “no”: People seem quite content to listen to severely compressed files on lousy speakers and headphones.

And people–perhaps those very same people!–manage to easily find the newest Kesha single at Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes.

But I’m out of my depth here: My classical collection consists of a couple random Mozarts, some Beethoven and maybe a Handel. I’m not sure, because I never play them. For those of you who do: Is Sony’s upcoming project appealing? Let me know in the comments below.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work